Cambridge Battery was started in 1862 during the American Civil War (1861-1865) amid heightened Anglo-American tensions, and completed in 1868. Originally called Upper Level Battery or High-Level Battery, it was eventually named for Prince George, 2nd Duke of Cambridge, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army from 1856 to 1895. Its purpose was to defend the entrance to Halifax Harbour, which British strategists deemed to be essential as a first-rate imperial naval station supporting the Royal Navy.
The battery is located on the site of an earlier munitions store that served the Prince of Wales tower and Fort Ogilvie, known as The Old Laboratory. It was designed as an irregular four-faced lunette (a half-moon shaped outwork) with a palisaded gorge (the rear part). At 65-feet above sea level, it commanded a greater height than either of the two shoreline batteries — Point Pleasant and Northwest Arm. The battery’s right face covered the main channel out to sea while the left face fronted across the entrance channel towards McNab’s Island. The short right flank commanded the entrance to the Northwest Arm, with the left flank for self-defence guns against an attack from landward. It is located mid-way between Northwest Arm Battery and the Prince of Wales Tower.
Cambridge Battery was powerfully armed, initially with new, rifled muzzle-loading (RML) guns: five 10-inch/ 18-ton guns and three 7-inch/ 7-ton guns. The 10-inch guns, one of which is today displayed at Fort Ogilvie, had a range of 6,000 yards and could penetrate 12 inches of wrought iron at 1,000 yards; they were last fired in 1904. Cambridge Battery mounted more 10-inch RMLs, the largest guns ever fitted in Halifax, than any other fortification in the Halifax Defence Complex. A pair of 7-inch/ 7-ton Mark I RMLs too can be seen currently at Fort Ogilvie; while the gun today located at Cambridge Battery is a 9-inch/ 12-ton Mark III RML, which would have been mounted at Fort Ogilvie.
Two 6-inch Mk VII rifled breech-loading (RBL) long guns (range about 12,000 yards) were in place at the redesigned and rebuilt Cambridge Battery at the beginning of World War I; they were transferred to Sydney, Nova Scotia in 1918 when the battery was deactivated after 50 years of service. Today the remains of the battery consist of the two WWI-era centrally located 6-inch Mk VII RBL emplacements and a couple of the older 7-inch RML emplacements on its right flank.